Mr. Malone, your highness, please don't merge QVC and HSN
Well kiddies, is QVC really looking to buy HSN? Que horror!
That’s the New York Post’s take on Liberty Media’s announcement Monday that it plans to spin off two of its companies, Liberty Capital and Liberty Starz. That leaves Liberty Media with its Liberty Interactive unit, which includes QVC, as “an asset-based stock,” Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei said in a prepared statement.
You can read the boring details of the news here. Thank God we’re not at a trade paper anymore where we have to write that boring financial crap.
Because cable cowboy and legend John Malone is chairman of Liberty Media, anytime the company burps the press is on it like flies on dog doo. So Monday’s announcement got lots of ink. And the cable industry fawns over Malone and thinks he walks on water.
The interesting angle here is whether this complex financial transaction and spin-off is a prelude to Liberty Media, which already owns 35 percent of HSN, trying to acquire the rest of the Southern Channel. Or maybe Liberty Media will go after struggling ShopNBC, which is rumored to be up for sale. After all, NBC Universal is dumping its stake in the ShopNBC, No. 3 home shopping net.
We know one thing, which is that home shopping aficionados wouldn’t welcome a merger of QVC and HSN. Many fans buy from both networks, and like having selections from two channels. People who don’t watch QVC or HSN may think they are the same, but the networks have distinct visions and are quite different.
Since we are jewelry addicts, we love HSN and its willingness to mark down items. We also like what HSN CEO Mindy Grossman is doing to the network, bringing in top name designers such as Badgley Mischka.
As for QVC, we enjoy (or used to, before layoff) its Affinity Diamonds and Artisan Crafted jewelry.
And we want our Colleen Lopez on HSN and our Rick Domeier on QVC, please.
The Post’s Claire Atkinson, a vet of our former sister publication, B&C, plays up the QVC-HSN merger angle in her story. The New York Times even picked up her article.
The Post story in the newspaper has one of those great Post photoshop graphics: Malone’s head superimposed on the body of a guy wearing a Liberty sweat shirt, standing in front of the company’s headquarters in Colorado carrying two shopping bags: One says QVC and the other says HSN.
Atkinson writes that “speculation” is that Liberty is seriously going after HSN. That’s a much sexier story than writing what Maffei actually said on a conference call yesterday, which is that Liberty is not pursuing HSN.
“The market doesn’t believe us; watch August come and go,” Maffei said. “There’s no plan or intention to do anything other than to keep our options open.”
Our former colleague at Multichannel News, Mike Farrell, wrote about Maffei’s denial of the HSN rumors. According to Mike, while the new Liberty Interactive structure makes it easier for the company to go on a buying binge, Maffei said HSN is not a target right now.
“We’re certainly not going to chase HSN stock,” Mike quoted Maffei as saying.
Malone tried, and failed, to merge QVC and HSN back in 2007.
If he’s got any sneaky plans to go after HSN again, we hope he fails this time, too.
And liar, liar pants on fire if Maffei’s denials turn out not to be true.